Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Gifts

Tonight, on Christmas Eve, I am humbled by the knowledge that God not only gave His Son for us, but that he continues to give gifts.

Today, I was wrapping up a gift for my brother, a book about John 3:16.  That reminded me of a short story that I shared earlier on this blog, which reminded me of the reason that I wrote that story.  I was standing in a church service, listening to someone reading that passage and thinking, though I knew better, that anyone would die for the whole world.  I mean, watch the movie Armageddon and you see that.  Immediately, I felt the presence of God around me and I FELT the words, "even if you had been the only one, I still would have died for you."  I felt weak and stunned and unworthy and yet loved at the same time.  I had never had such an amazing experience before and I have never looked at the familiar verse the same since.  As I recalled that day, I was again reminded of my unworthiness and yet my value to God.

It was a recurring theme today.  Earlier in the day, a friend had called me to tell me of the miraculous happenings at her sister's house.  Christmas was going to be extremely lean at their house, but out of the blue, a U-Haul pulled up to their house and people they didn't know got out and started unloading groceries and gifts for them.  It reminded me of when I was a single mom and was out of makeup and conditioner, two things that were luxuries I couldn't afford.  A knock at the door revealed strangers from a nearby church, passing out gift bags.  Inside the bag was conditioner and makeup.  The message was crystal clear: "I will provide.  I am concerned with the details of your life."  But, who am I to have God send some strangers to my door to deliver cosmetics?  My brother asked the same question earlier this year when a stranger approached him with a message from God, armed with details that he couldn't possibly have known otherwise.

When we went to the Christmas Eve service at church tonight, our pastor delivered an envelope to us, containing $200 from an "anonymous donor."  This is the second time something like this has happened to me.  Several years back, our Sunday school teachers gave us an envelope with a couple hundred dollars in it, saying they choose a family to bless every year and that year, it was us.  Now, just as I did then, I feel unworthy.  Yes, life has been difficult, but we have what we need.  God has been good to us.  I thought, "surely there must be someone else that needs this more than we do."  I thought of all the ways that I have failed and wondered why God would seek to bless me when I have let Him down in so many ways.  I thought of the times we have squandered money and felt guilty.  It wasn't long before I was crying, thinking again of how much God loves me even though I don't deserve it.

Just last week, my friend called to tell me that the same thing had just happened to her: the pastor had given her an envelope containing $500 after asking her what the church could do for them, since receiving an anonymous prayer request for them.  She was sure that it had been me because only I could know the struggles they were facing.  But, I am not the only one.  Regardless of who is humanly behind any of these random acts of kindness, we know that God is ultimately behind them.  He knows what no man can possibly know about our lives...and loves us anyway.

The life of His Son was more than we deserved.  His life was more precious than anything imaginable.  And yet, He doesn't stop there.  He continues to give, a loving Father at Christmas, giving gifts to His children.  O Father, make us more like you.

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